If you are reading blogs (and you are), or are on Facebook, instagram, etc. you've seen innumerable pictures of Walton-style families (loved that show!) gathered over the holidays. Some traveled to amazing locations, others have Martha Stewart-worthy trees and decorations. Lots of pictures of smiling families, cute kids, adorable dogs and cats (lots of cates). (Ok, I'm not a fan of cats. Feel free to hate me).
No lingering resentments, recovering or not recovering addicts, step-family woes, challenged children, college drop outs, debts, lost jobs, depression, sibling rivalries, divorces, etc. I mention this because I read a post on Facebook that softly suggested that it appeared that everyone had enjoyed an amazing Christmas. The underlying message seemed to be "Glad you did, but I didn't."
I did enjoy a lovely Christmas. We spent it with our son and much of my husband's family. This is a family that knows how to get along. There were lots of laughs, board games, and food. Not a cross word. Yes, I had moments of high anxiety, worry, etc. but they were just moments. I loved being with them.
It wasn't always this way -- almost every holiday in my past was dominated by the cause and existence and aftermath of addictions. My brothers' problems became my problems, because that is how addictions work. But now they are all gone, and I am introducing myself to the holidays in a new way. It is hard to shake the past, but I'm shaking it as fast as I can.
Yet -- even with a good drama-free Christmas, my life is no different than most. Lift up the social media of happiness, and there are some issues. I post this just to remind us, particularly in the world of public sharing on social media, that I've yet to meet a perfect family. We all struggle with a few (if we are lucky) not-so-happy things. Online is not real.
One blogger I know, who is a riotous pleasure online, has serious, movie-worthy, sad family problems. Her blog is full of witty commentary, but her life behind the blog is anything but witty. I think of her every day, knowing her struggles. Another posts gorgeous creations, while she has shared with me that her husband resents every dime and minute she spends on paper crafting. Her life is complicated.... A facebook friend has an amazing life, except that one of her children is paralyzed by depression. I'm sure you could add more examples.
So if you are wondering how every other family manages to pull off the big glorious holiday and life, the answer is that they don't, although the reality is that some folks are suffering more than others. In any event I suspect that everyone is displaying just a slice of their lives. And that can be a good thing, because happy slices uplift the soul. However, the downside is that we may forget that we are only seeing a slice.
Whatever holiday you and your family celebrate, and particularly if you are struggling to celebrate anything, I hope that the social media frenzy of perfection doesn't add to your struggles and make you feel more alone. You are not.